Welcome to the latest edition of our Foundation of Hearts blog. The eagle-eyed will note that we are returning to our previous method of communicating news and updates to our members. We tried ‘The Pledger’ based on feedback but, on balance, feel that the blog is a much swifter way of getting information to our members. Our intention is to issue this bi-monthly, unless there is information we feel should come to you more quickly. Welcome back! We have a lot to tell you.
Update from Foundation of Hearts Chair, Stuart Wallace
September saw the club’s first ‘home’ match at Murrayfield against Aberdeen. Many of us will have left the match in admiration of the strength and passion in the team’s performance in what could have been a very handsome victory. No doubt those victories will now follow. Our fans turned Murrayfield maroon and, with a fine Aberdeen contingent, a crowd of 25,000 certainly ‘made some noise’. It was a spine-tingling moment as ‘Hey Jude’ rang out to the mass twirly: it looked impressive from the West Stand. The sense in leaving Murrayfield that day was that we were the supporters who felt more disappointment at the result. The players deserved at least what they achieved and probably more. We’ve carried the Murrayfield momentum into our subsequent away games and there is no reason why it won’t continue through October and beyond. We look difficult to beat and are playing with real grit, no doubt exciting times ahead.
It is great to get back to football after a pretty tumultuous week or two at the club and also at the Foundation. Craig’s appointment as manager brought to a close a period of intense speculation around the position. It seemed only right that the club took its time in making such a crucial appointment. Things will settle quickly now and the club will move forward into an incredibly exciting period. Craig brings experience to the role in a way that few others could and it was great to see the supporters get right behind him after he decided to take the role.
The daily pictures now emerging of the new stand’s progress are breath-taking. Tynecastle Park will open in November, hopefully with 14,000 season ticket holders in place, a sell out on the day and a substantial increase in facilities. It will be great to get ‘right behind the team’ as we return home for good.
Many of you will have followed our ‘Deadline Day’ social media campaign, which timed nicely with Craig’s appointment. It was a very tongue-in-cheek campaign but really struck a chord with the supporters. We had an incredible day and at one point we were losing count of our new members. In the day or two that followed, the activity continued and we saw our new members move into treble figures, with a number of pledge increases too. It was a strong statement of us coming together as a support and, for this, we thank you.
You’ll find an update in this blog in relation to our draft Governance proposals and what you can expect to see next. You’ll also find an update on plot ceremonies and membership clubs, along with news about our upcoming supporter engagement plans. We are keen to be very visible to our members and continue to strengthen our ties with them. The Foundation’s presence at the Federation of Hearts Supporters Club monthly meeting began this process and also proved to be a really enjoyable night with some great discussions. Hopefully there will be more to come.
Everyone at the Foundation and the club is really grateful for your support, whether that is your monthly pledge, the increases we have seen to pledges, the many one-off donations we are now starting to see, or even your retweets of our social media activity. You can find everything you need to know on all of those topics at www.foundationofhearts.org
Our period of consultation on the long-term governance model for the Foundation and Hearts closed on 31 August. A number of members submitted detailed comments, while others provided feedback at the open meeting we held in the Gorgie Suite at Tynecastle in August. A discussion thread on our proposals also ran on the Kickback forum. Your feedback has been invaluable and we are grateful to everyone who participated.
The next stage is for our working group to consider all the comments received and review our proposals in light of that feedback. At the board meeting next month, our board of directors will approve a final set of proposals and these will be issued to our members. We will then ask our members to endorse the proposals at our forthcoming AGM, the details of which are confirmed later in this blog.
As the Foundation moves closer toward fan ownership, we have turned our attention to increasing engagement not only with pledgers, but with all Hearts fans. The Foundation were recently invited to the Federation of Hearts Supporters’ monthly meeting alongside Gary Locke. We were delighted to accept and directors Stuart Wallace and Louise Strutt gladly attended on behalf of the board. At the meeting we had the opportunity to discuss our vision for even stronger fan engagement and the feedback was incredibly positive.
Louise has been tasked with leading the development and roll out of a supporter engagement strategy for the Foundation which will include the Foundation board visiting Hearts supporters’ clubs around the country to discuss the progress of the Foundation and recruit even more members to ensure Heart of Midlothian Football Club can continue to create history for many years to come.
Plans for these visits along with other initiatives such as a ‘meet the directors’ event and potential fans forum are currently being discussed and we hope to provide more information on these in the coming months. We will also be looking to reinstate our presence on matchdays as soon as the club return to a regular run of home fixtures, so watch out for our smiling faces around the ground.
Should you wish to receive any more information, or if you are interested in arranging a visit to your supporters’ club, please contact email@example.com for more information.
Plot Ceremonies and Membership Clubs
We continue to host plot ceremonies regularly for pledgers who have reached the required level of Maroon Points. The Tynecastle Redevelopment has made scheduling somewhat tricky but despite this we’ve now seen around 2,000 Foundation pledgers grace the hallowed turf at Tynecastle to stand proud atop their own little piece of history. As a reminder, members will be invited to ceremonies in the order in which they achieve the required level of points and if you fail to respond to two invites we will assume you do not wish to attend. At the moment, we have around 800 pledgers who have reached the Maroon Point limit but have not yet received an invitation. We are working through the backlog as fast as we can. Every pledger who reaches the total will receive an invitation and each plot ceremony is as special as the last, so please be patient and bear with us. The next plot ceremony we have scheduled is for the 22nd of October.
We also invited the first pledgers to reach 1,300 Maroon Points to collect their 1956 club certificate and badge at the Hearts museum over the summer. Over 400 pledgers have been invited to visit the museum and meet a club legend across a selection of dates. 400 more invitations will follow shortly. As with the plot ceremonies, we have a backlog of pledgers to get through so if you’ve reached this points total and haven’t yet received an invite, rest assured we are working on it.
Pledger Ron Bain travelled all the way from Australia to attend his plot ceremony at Tynecastle earlier this year. Afterward, we asked him to tell us about what pledging to the Foundation means to him:
“My Plot Ceremony was awesome and felt like the culmination of my lifetime as a Hearts supporter. I am 65 now and can recall being on my father’s shoulders outside the Roxy picture house that night in 1956 when Hearts carried the Cup home. I have followed the Jambos ever since. Of course, there have been bad times like watching us lose 2-0 to Kilmarnock on the 24th April 1965 and walking home to my parents’ house in Westfield Court crying all the way. We lost the title by 0.042 of a goal…….by today’s goal difference rules we would have won!!”
“Moving to Australia in 1983 drastically changed the level of information I had since it was well before the age of internet and I had to rely on the Sunday Post that my mother would send out. Since then of course things have improved immensely. Hearts FC coverage of games (and the regular cable channels) allow me to watch the team “live” but time difference for the majority of the season is 11 hours so a 3pm kick off at Tynecastle is 2am here in Australia. Not always possible!!!”
“Above is a photo of me in my back yard holding the collection of Pennants I got from my Dad celebrating those wonderful years in the late 50s when the Hearts won just about everything. Unfortunately, you can’t see my name on the shirt since it sits just on my left shoulder blade, but I know it’s there!!”
The Foundation are hugely grateful for Ron’s contribution. If you are interested in sharing your story in a future blog, we would love to hear from you. Email us telling us what pledging to the Foundation means to you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date for your diary – Foundation AGM
This year’s Foundation of Hearts AGM will be held in the Gorgie Suite at 6.00 on Wednesday, 20 December. Further details will be circulated to all members in due course.
If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to email@example.com.